Consumers in Britain buy more clothes per person than any other country in Europe – much of which is low cost, highly disposable fast fashion. Yet, the nation’s government is not ready to enact legislation aimed at getting the apparel industry to clean up its act. Members of Parliament shot down an 18 provision bill on Tuesday, which included a one pence tax on each garment sold to increase investments in better recycling for discarded clothing, a ban on the destruction of unsold stock, and an environmental targets for fashion retailers with revenues of more than $45 million, asserting that many measures of the proposed measures are already in place.
“Ministers have failed to recognize that urgent action must be taken to change the fast fashion business model,” which has exploded in popularity in the United Kingdom, as pioneered by retailers, such as Topshop, River Island, and Miss Selfridge, and more recently, super-fast producers like Boohoo and Missguided, Environmental Audit Committee (“EAC”) chairwoman Mary Creagh said in a statement. This model, which sees high fashion looks reproduced for a fraction of the price at a rapid speed, “produces clothes that cost the earth,” as well as those in its supply chain, some of whom are paid as little as $4.41 per hour, according to the EAC.
The decision by Parliament “is out of step with the public who are shocked by the fact that we are sending 300,000 tons of clothes a year to incineration or landfill,” she further asserted.
A representative for Parliament denies that it is refusing to accepting the committee’s recommendations. “In our landmark Resources and Waste Strategy we will take forward measures including developing proposals and consulting on extended producer responsibility and higher product standards for textiles,” he stated. “This would make producers responsible for the full cost of managing and disposing of their products after they’re no longer useful.”
Specifically in terms of the one cent tax on clothing, the government rep stated that they will consider it “alongside their plans for making firms in different sectors more responsible for their waste,” as reported by the BBC. However, “No decisions will be made on this until 2025.”